I.B.’s Berkeley eatery gets revamped: New look, ‘same great taste’

Doug Smith/Staff

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I.B.’s Berkeley, an eatery opened in 1991 that specializes in sandwiches and cheesesteak hoagies, has come under new ownership.

Michael Dughman, who purchased the restaurant with business partner Fuad Baba in 2017, renovated the storefront and plans to host community events to increase outreach. The menu offerings, however, will largely remain the same.

“Our main goal is to ensure the same great taste people remember,” said Dughman.

Dughmam said the previous owner was a family friend and Dughman seeks to keep the restaurant family-owned and largely family-operated. Dughman’s wife took orders at the cash register while he flipped burgers at the grill.

While retaining some classic elements, the new owners look to make the place their own. Their renovation added shiny counters and a pane of glass between the kitchen and the waiting area so customers can see their food being prepared.

“It was previously family-owned and that’s something to be proud of, to take on,” Dughman said.

Dughman and Baba also look to host community events every three months. A food-eating competition hosted by Marshawn Lynch, football star and UC Berkeley alumnus, is already scheduled for the next Cal Day.

As an Alameda native, Dughman hopes that these outreach efforts can travel beyond Berkeley.

“It’s about bringing different communities together,” said Dughman.

Longtime customer Jacobi Gordon, campus freshmen and member of the basketball team, visits the restaurant about once a month. His favorite order is the turkey sandwich, titled the “Avogobble” on the menu.

The new storefront, however, has also drawn new customers. Alejandro Duarte, who is in Berkeley for a summer internship, enjoys the restaurant’s cheeseburgers. Sayed Rehman chose the restaurant as the shiny awning promised halal food.

“Really good,” Rehman said after his meal, giving a thumbs-up.

Contact Anna Ho at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anna_j_ho.